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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Hornets in one of worst shooting performances of season

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Hornets in one of worst shooting performances of season

Neither team played well enough to win, but the Charlotte Hornets converted enough easy looks to regain the lead after halftime and close out 96-93 over the Wizards on Saturday night.

Cody Zeller (19 points, five rebounds, four steals) and Frank Kaminsky (14 points) led Charlotte to its first victory in the series this.  

The Wizards (42-27) were led by John Wall (19 points, eight assists), Bradley Beal (18 points), Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points) and Otto Porter (16 points) but they couldn’t generate enough offense to win their sixth consecutive set of back-to-back games.

A jumper by Kemba Walker (16 points) put Charlotte ahead 84-77 late in the fourth to stop any hopes of a comeback.

The Wizards had won 12 of their last 16 road games until losing this one.

– This will go down as one of the Wizards’ worst offensive showings of the season. They shot 29 for 78 from the floor, or 36.7%, including 11 for 32 from 3 (33.3%).

– The second unit extended a 20-19 first-quarter lead to 29-21. All five players used by coach Scott Brooks were reserves, with Brandon Jennings, Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi. Kaminsky, however, took advantage of his matchup with Mahinmi late to get Charlotte the separation needed. A three-point shooting big, he was 0-for-9 in the first three quarters but shot 4-for-5 in the fourth to close out the game which drew the Wizards' best post defender away from the rim. 

– Oubre continued to surge and has posted solid back-to-back games for the first time in about a month. He hounded Walker on handoffs and denied him the ball. During the second-quarter stretch when the Wizards took their largest lead, Oubre forced Walker into forcing a shot that barely struck iron and drew a charge on the next possession on Nicolas Batum (eight points, 10 rebounds). His 6-7 frame and 7-2 wingspan can be problematic for smaller guards like Walker as they can’t get clean looks if he’s disciplined in his coverage.

– Wall picked up a technical foul for the second game in a row that’ll cost him $4,000. More importantly, it’s his 14th of the season. He allowed one more until Wall faces an automatic one-game suspension. This one game after a foul was called on Kaminsky on Wall’s drive. He drew the whistle but for some reason continued jawing with Kaminsky. Both players drew double technicals. 

--Jason Smith (eight points, four rebounds, three blocks) made his second consecutive start with Markieff Morris (illness) out. He played 27 minutes and although his offensive output was modest Smith's defensive coverage contributed to a much better start. 

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Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. hope to show improvement when NBA returns

Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. hope to show improvement when NBA returns

The NBA's break in between games due to the coronavirus is long enough to equal a full NBA offseason. If any of the general rules of NBA offseasons apply, that means some players could come back looking noticeably different.

Since young players are usually the ones who improve the most over the summer, Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr. are two players to watch. They are the Wizards' two most recent first round picks and both spent the break working with the resources they had, hoping to make another leap.

Hachimura, whom the Wizards took ninth overall in 2019, spent much of the time off in Los Angeles. He mostly trained at home with access to weights and a schedule lined with Zoom workouts hosted by Wizards coaches and members of the team's training staff.

Hachimura didn't have full-time access to a hoop, but did get some shots up here and there. Since returning to Washington once the Wizards' practice facility reopened in June, Hachimura has been working closely with assistant coach Corey Gaines.

The emphasis has been his outside shot, ball-handling and court vision.

"I feel like I have more confidence in my threes," Hachimura said. "I feel like that's come from how much I'm working out. The coaches have done a good job with me, the technique and stuff. I think it's more the confidence and I think it's getting better."

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The Wizards have been trying to add arc to Hachimura's shot ever since they drafted him out of Gonzaga. He has a solid midrange shot, but the percentages go down the further out he goes and the flat trajectory doesn't help.

Hachimura is shooting just 27.4 percent from three as a rookie this season. The team hopes he can step into a larger offensive role with Davis Bertans having opted out of the league's restart. If his three-point shot is indeed improved, Hachimura could make a big difference.

"I'm so excited for this opportunity," Hachimura said. "I think we have a chance to make the playoffs."

Much of Brown's focus during the break has been on the defensive end. He wants to be a more reliable and versatile defender for the defensively-challenged Wizards.

The problem there is that with social distancing in Wizards' workouts, he can't really practice defending other NBA players. So, it has required some creativity.

RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL UNDECIDED ON NBA RESTART

"I've done lateral slides with resistance bands on. More so making your body used to those quick movements and getting those twitch muscles used to sliding fast and making quick reaction times," he said.

Brown said he adjusted his diet during quarantine and dropped his body fight down to six percent, the lowest he's been since he was drafted 15th overall by the Wizards in 2018. He also feels like the time away helped him clear his head.

"For me personally, I feel like it's been a good break to take some time off mentally and regroup. I've been able to work on my body and work on stuff I normally wouldn't be able to work on," he said.

The Wizards have a lot of young players who had the chance to improve dramatically in the past few months. But their two recent first round picks certainly stand out as ones to monitor given how important they are to the team's future. In just a few weeks, we should get a sense of whether they were actually able to improve or not.

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Ish Smith on death of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, gun violence in United States

Ish Smith on death of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, gun violence in United States

During a video conference call with reporters on Monday, Wizards point guard Ish Smith was asked about gun violence in the United States, specifically in light of the recent murder of 11-year-old Davon McNeal in Southeast Washington. Smith had heard of his passing and it hit quite close to home.

"His life is cut short at 11 years. I got a nephew right now who is 11 years old. He's 11 and I know the dreams and aspirations he wants and where he wants to get to," Smith said. 

McNeal was killed by a stray bullet on Saturday while attending a non-violence cookout organized by his mother. He was in the sixth grade at Kramer Middle School in Southeast.

McNeal's death is all too familiar for Smith, who has seen far to many cases just like this one.

"What could little man have done to avoid that? Like, we gotta do better," Smith said. "To see a child taken so young; I mean, my man won't even be able to see his 18th birthday, prom, graduation. There's just so much stuff... It shouldn't be at the hand of somebody else where they can't get to where they wanna get to because of a stray bullet or a shooting; whatever the case is. My heart hurts."

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Smith, who is deeply religious, said he is "constantly praying" for the violence to stop. He tries to do his part by speaking with troubled youth in North Carolina in the offseason.

He hopes more awareness can be raised for tragedies like McNeal's.

"[Kids] have to see a better example so they know what to do and what not to do so they can see a brighter future," Smith said.

There are no suspects in McNeal's murder at this time. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is asking for the public's help with any leads.

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